A friend of mine recently wrote this compelling article about “bad” movies and ironic viewing. He also sent me a note saying that it wasn’t directed towards me.
I was flattered to have him write to me (and note that I’m “one of the good guys”) but I was disappointed to think that I’ve got this reputation.
Let me clear the air. I love all kinds of movies, TV shows, comic books and works of literature. For reasons too boring to get into, I am not a fan of the baggage that comes with high and/or low art.
And truth be told, I don’t subscribe to the notion of a movie (or anything else) being “so bad it’s good.” A surprising admission from someone who contributes to ‘zines like I LOVE BAD MOVIES and co-hosts a video series titled SO BAD IT’S GOOD. But it’s true none-the-less. (Years ago I was the monologue writer for a youth-oriented talk show and I penned a diatribe against the phrase “so bad it’s good.” I’ll have to re-post it.)
When I was younger I watched Mystery Science Theater and I wore a lot of ironic T-shirts. But more and more I find that works of art are like Reese’s Peanut Butter cups. As the ad says, “there’s no wrong way to enjoy them.” At the risk of sounding like a raving post-modernist, I can’t judge people for liking something one way or another. They can interpret it however they see fit. As someone who is sharing stuff that I like, I can only hope people will also like it.
When I screened clips at the KEVIN GEEKS OUT live events, some people liked a given film clip for nostalgia’s sake. Other people genuinely enjoyed the content. Some might’ve called it a “guilty pleasure” , while others dug it ironically. (And I’m sure there were plenty of people in the audience who didn’t like a given clip on any level.)
For me, when I present a selection from a film it’s less about “isn’t this so stupid that it’s hilarious?!”
I prefer to take the approach “I found this fascinating. And maybe you’ll find it fascinating, too…”
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On more than one occasion, I’ve had awkward social encounters about T-shirts. Once, I was talking to a co-worker about BLACK SABBATH, because she was wearing a Black Sabbath shirt. But it quickly became apparent that she wasn’t a fan, and didn’t know their music. I felt pretty stupid.
Another time I was in Prospect Park with my kids and I made friends with another parent. While we were chatting, she noted that my BILLY JACK T-shirt was “hilarious.” Except that I wasn’t wearing it ironically. I felt pretty stupid.
I’m done with feeling stupid about any of this stuff.
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The phrase “so bad it’s good” has become a brand and attitude. I don’t subscribe to it, but I collaborate with people who use that marketing device to reach a particular audience.
If something makes you happy and it’s not hurting anybody, then it’s okay with me. But you don’t have to dress up your enjoyment, framing it as as something ironic.
And I won’t be ashamed for enjoying the things I like.
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One of the best things about spending time with my sons, is that they’re 3 and 6 — and there’s no filter about how to appreciate things. For example, my 3-year-old like Spider-man. He likes the 1967 Spider-man cartoon. He likes the 2008 Spider-man cartoon. He likes the electric Spider-man toothbrush. Each one is equally valued. Each makes him happy. And he doesn’t experience any guilt or embarrassment about any of it.
I worked at VH1 for a year — and besides being a place that was over-run with finger-quotes and ironic viewing, people would throw around all kinds of superlatives. (“Best Mustache Ever!”) The over-use of superlatives without any historical context inspired this video which I produced at AMC.